Alexander Makhov on the Workshop ‘Historical and Cultural Narratives. Rivalries and Entanglements in Eastern Europe’
During the three days from November 12th to 14th, 2015, IGITI researchers Alexandra Kolesnik, Oleg Morozov and Alexander Makhov participated in a workshop following an invitation from the Institute for Eastern European History and Area Studies Tübingen. Together with other young researchers from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Germany, they discussed the question of how historical and cultural narratives are built and exist in public and academic discourse.
The workshop started with an opening speech by Klaus Gestwa, Director of the Institute for Eastern European History and Area Studies and Professor of the University of Tübingen. The next speakers were special guests of the seminar, T. Gundorova, Professor of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and I. Savelieva, HSE Professor. The invited professors read lectures for the workshop participants. Professor Gundorova spoke about the narrative on generations from 1960s to 2010s in contemporary Ukrainian literature, and Professor Savelieva spoke about the specifics of public and academic historical narratives. The presentations provoked lively interest in the audience, and the organizers even had to limit the time for comments and questions to the professors and invite everyone to continue the discussion over an informal buffet.
The next day, after a quick introduction session, the workshop started. The participants split into groups and started working on their topics, supervised by more experienced researchers. Alexandra Kolesnik and Alexander Makhov worked in a group headed by Florian Peters (Humboldt University of Berlin), and Oleg Morozov worked in a group headed by Natalia Senkevich (Kyiv-Mohyla Academy). As part of the group discussions, each of the participants presented their research related to historical narrative building and existence. Oleg Morozov spoke about university chronicles as a product of academic commemorative culture; Alexander Makhov presented his paper on discussions on national history via internet forums; Alexandra Kolesnik told the audience about rethinking the Soviet history of the 1980s through the history of rock stars. All the participants discussed each other’s papers, asked questions and expressed their opinions. After that, each group worked on a joint presentation, where they presented the participants’ understanding of the importance of historical narratives. The group work was so engrossing that the participants continued discussions during lunch and even after the first day of the seminar had formally finished.
On November 14, the participants presented the results of their group work. Oleg Morozov’s group spoke about a unified mechanism of building popular narratives in historical literature and cinema. Alexandra Kolesnik’s and Alexander Makhov’s group presented a project on the study of historical narratives and the transformation of their meaning in the Ukrainian conflict of 2014-2015. The presentations were much appreciated and actively discussed as part of the final debate.